Places rainier and gloomier than Seattle?!? No way!
There's been a little bit of chatter lately with some stories about how despite the recent rainy weather, Seattle doesn't rank among the top rainiest cities in the United States. You might have heard that before, although I'm sure many might not realize *how* far down we are on the annual rainfall list nationally. (Not even in the Top 30!)
Seattle storms are mostly drizzly while Midwestern and East Coast thunderstorms can dump tenths to inches of rain in a few hours. Plus add in the occasional remnants of tropical storms and it's easy there to pass Seattle's 37.59 inches of annual rainfall per year. And that's not all -- Seattle gets a little bit of rain protection from an occasional visit by the Olympic Rain Shadow, which is how Seattle ranks less than Portland -- or even Olympia in annual rainfall.
But we make up for it in how often it rains, right? A week of rainy days, even if it only adds up to a total of a half inch, is still a week of rain, right?
Yet perhaps more surprisingly was that Seattle is also not the top city in the nation when it comes to frequency of rain. The study cited puts Seattle at No. 5 at 149 days with measurable rain though the official data I have for Sea-Tac is at 154 or 156 depending on the length of time you use, would put is more like in 3rd or 4th. Cities that are gloomier and rainier/snowier or...precipitatier(?) than Seattle? Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh -- yes, essentially throw a dart at the AFC North and odds are 50/50 you'll find a town that perhaps can make the claim to Rain Town USA more than Seattle?
That can't be, can it? You've seen our autumns and winters here, how could there be places even grayer than this?
Sure enough, even last year, all five of those cities had more rainy days than Seattle (!)
The devil is in the details and goes back to those summer thunderstorms that push those Midwest cities to be wetter than here. They also count as rainy days, even if it's a passing 10-minute thundershower. Meanwhile, Seattle has a starkly-dry summer season where rainfall is about as rare as a parking spot near Westlake.
But as you might expect, no one out grays and out rains Seattle during the fall and winter seasons! THIS is where we get our rainy reputation.
Here is the data since 2000 (so it won't exactly match the earlier mentioned averages which went back to 1980 and it's been a rainy past few years in Seattle to up our recent average a bit:)
They say it rains 9 months out of the year here, but really it's 6 for sure and then a bit of a wild card for the other three. I added in June for summer, but toss out its usual 10 rainy days and Seattle averages just 9 days with measurable rain over the 2 month period of July and August. But even those "rainy" days in the Midwest usually have some sunshine on the edges. So in that sense, I think our reputation is still well earned.